NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 11, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 11, 2023

The Panthers defeat the Blackhawks, the Ducks upset the Flames, the reaction to the Flyers firing general manager Chuck Fletcher, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: An overtime goal by Brandon Montour gave the Florida Panthers a 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Matthew Tkachuk collected three assists for the Panthers (33-27-6), who moved to within two points of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 72 points. Petr Mrazek made 39 saves for the 22-37-6 Blackhawks.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (NHL Images).

The Anaheim Ducks upset the Calgary Flames 3-1. Max Comtois had a goal and an assist while John Gibson stopped 36 shots for the 22-35-9 Ducks. Mikael Backlund scored for the Flames, who dropped to 29-24-13 and remain four points out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot with 71 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson surpassed Guy Hebert for the most saves (11,837) in franchise history.


PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: The Philadelphia Flyers fired general manager Chuck Fletcher on Friday. Fletcher is also out as president of hockey operations. Daniel Briere takes over as GM on an interim basis.

In his four-plus years on the job, Fletcher’s Flyers reached the playoffs once (2020). The last straw for ownership appeared to be his inability to trade pending free agent winger James van Riemsdyk before the March 3 trade deadline.

Fletcher also faced criticism for his draft record, his trades and free-agent signings, and difficulties in coping with injuries to key players like Sean Couturier, Ryan Ellis and Cam Atkinson.

Sam Carchidi speculates Ray Shero could be a candidate for the general manager or president of hockey ops position. The former GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils is currently a senior advisor with the Minnesota Wild.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall suggests Fletcher’s inability to suitably replace Matt Niskanen following the blueliner’s sudden retirement in 2020 may have been most fatal to his tenure as GM.

THE ATHLETIC: Charlie O’Connor believes firing Fletcher could be just the start of changes within the Flyers’ front office, citing the dysfunction of hockey operations under his tenure. There appeared to be a disconnection between the two sides of the organization, as well as between hockey ops and ownership.

In his statement announcing Fletcher’s firing, Flyers governor Dave Scott confirmed the roles of general manager and president of hockey ops would be separated. No longer will one person hold both positions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers have been mediocre for over a decade now. Fletcher’s firing seemed inevitable even before the trade deadline debacle.

Fletcher wasn’t responsible for what happened under his predecessor but he deserves the burden of blame for the Flyers’ failure to improve under his watch. They were stubbornly resistant to a much-needed roster rebuild, ignoring a fan base eager to embrace change.

ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski cited multiple sources claiming the GM job is Briere’s to lose. Given that he’s taken over on an interim basis it’s apparent he’s the front-runner to take over on a full-time basis. He could have a hand in whoever is hired to fill the hockey ops role.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins has taken a leave of absence to return to his native Latvia due to an illness in the family. The club has recalled Daniil Tarasov on an emergency basis.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: The Canadiens revealed yesterday that sidelined forward Kirby Dach remains sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury. Winger Brendan Gallagher remains with a lower-body injury for another three to four weeks. Defenseman Arber Xhekaj underwent successful shoulder surgery on March 1 and is expected to be fully recovered for the start of training camp in September.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dach is also likely done for the season. Gallagher could return before the end of the regular season but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s still sidelined by that point.

THE ATHLETIC: Two men were arrested this week and charged in the May carjacking involving Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner and his fiancee. Marner was glad to have closure to the incident. “It’s a moment you don’t want anyone to be a part of,” he said yesterday.

NHL Rumor Mill – March 9, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – March 9, 2023

What could the future hold for Flyers winger Travis Konecny, Ducks goalie John Gibson and Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun looked ahead at what the offseason could hold for several notable NHL players, including Philadelphia Flyers winger Travis Konecny, Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson and Arizona Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz.

LeBrun believes the Flyers could entertain trade offers ahead of the June draft for Konecny, who has two years remaining on his contract with an average annual value of $5.5 million. It doesn’t mean they’ll trade him but they could look at what his market value might be. LeBrun said he knew of at least one playoff contender that was planning to make an aggressive trade offer before Konecny go hurt.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Konecny could be the Flyers’ best trade chip this summer but that depends on what their plans are going forward. Are they continuing to “aggressively retool” or will they finally engage in a roster rebuild? If it’s the latter, he could fetch the type of return that could help them over the long term.

Turning to Gibson, LeBrun reports most teams still view the 30-year-old goalie as a difference maker. He’s halfway through his eight-year contract with a $6 million AAV and a 12-team no-trade clause. LeBrun believes Gibson could agree to a trade to a playoff contender. There wasn’t much interest in him at the trade deadline but LeBrun thinks some teams could contact the Ducks during the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson’s contract (especially the annual cap hit) is a sticking point, especially given his less-than-stellar numbers in recent years, though in fairness those can be attributed in part to the depleted roster in front of him. I don’t doubt that some teams could come calling but they’ll either want the Ducks to retain half of that cap hit or take back a toxic contract in return.

The Arizona Coyotes weren’t able to move Nick Schmaltz despite his nearly point-per-game pace over the past couple of seasons and reasonable $5.85 million AAV. LeBrun believes it’s because the final three years of his contract are backloaded, meaning Schmaltz will earn $8.15 million in actual salary per season during that period. It could take a deep-pocketed team that likes the player to take him off the Coyotes’ hands.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schmaltz’s injury history is also a concern. He missed 43 regular-season games in 2018-19, nine playoff games in 2020, 19 games last season and 16 games this season.

NHL Rumor Mill – February 14, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – February 14, 2023

Are the Coyotes any closer to trading Jakob Chychrun or the Oilers to acquiring Erik Karlsson? What’s the latest on John Gibson and Vladislav Gavrikov? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TSN: Chris Johnston reports the Arizona Coyotes aren’t close at all in trading Jakob Chychrun despite holding the 24-year-old defenseman out of the lineup since Saturday for trade-related reasons.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (NHL Images).

Johnston cites Chychrun’s injury history as a reason why the Coyotes are keeping him out of the lineup for now as the March 3 trade deadline approaches while they try to work out a deal. He believes the Los Angeles Kings remain the front-runner for Chychrun, perhaps making it a bigger deal by including a goaltender. So far, however, it doesn’t sound like a deal is close.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also reported that he’s heard there’s nothing close yet regarding a Chychrun trade. He claimed there’s been a snag in discussions between the Coyotes and the Kings regarding a contract that needed to be moved but they couldn’t agree. Friedman doesn’t think it was one of the principal members of the trade but an ancillary one.

Promising young Kings such as Quinton Byfield and Brandt Clarke were linked to a Chychrun trade over the weekend. However, Friedman said the Kings have made it clear they’re not moving either player. He also wondered if the Coyotes holding Chychrun out of the lineup may have re-engaged other clubs with an interest in the blueliner.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reported the Coyotes could be willing to retain salary on Chychrun to facilitate a trade. The rearguard carries an average annual value of $4.6 million through 2024-25.

If the Coyotes are willing to retain salary, Seravalli believes it could help them get the asking price they’ve been seeking for Chychrun. He also believes it would interest “a whole swath of teams”.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner cited sources saying the Islanders aren’t believed to be in the running for Chychrun after trading away their 2023 first-rounder and their top prospect (Aatu Raty) to the Vancouver Canucks last month for Bo Horvat.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chychrun’s contract is considered affordable for a defenseman of his puck-moving skills. Still, retaining part of it should stir more interest in the trade market.

The rebuilding Coyotes stuck close to this season’s lower cap limit of $61 million and could do so again for the next couple of years. It wouldn’t hurt them to retain a reasonable portion of Chychrun’s cap hit if it helps them land two first-round picks and a top-prospect or a promising young NHL player.

Cal Petersen could be the goaltender Johnston was referring to when he mentioned the Kings wanting to include one in the deal. Long-time Kings starter Jonathan Quick is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July but I doubt they want to move him. They also recently signed Pheonix Copley to a one-year extension worth $1.5 million.

Petersen’s in the first season of a three-year deal with a $5 million AAV but his struggles this season have him buried in the minors. They probably want to get his contract off their books. Petersen has a 10-team no-trade clause but might not be picky over where he goes if it means he gets back to the NHL.

There’s also talk the Coyotes could agree to move goalie Karel Vejmelka for the right price. Maybe the snag is the Kings want to include him in the return but aren’t willing to meet the Coyotes’ asking price.


TSN: Chris Johnston followed up on his weekend report claiming the Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks were in discussions about Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson. He said the two clubs are at least exploring the financial aspects of making such a deal. Karlsson’s $11.5 million AAV through 2026-27 makes it a difficult trade to pull off.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Oilers are listening to franchise stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl as they’ve expressed their preference in landing a puck-moving blueliner.

Karlsson has a full no-movement clause. He’s said he’s not thinking about waiving it unless he’s presented with something. Meanwhile, the Oilers would have to figure out which contracts to move to make room for the Sharks blueliner before determining what return to send to San Jose. If they move too many players they risk a shortened bench in a capped-out season or upsetting the team chemistry.

Defenseman Tyson Barrie ($4.5 million AAV) seems like an obvious cost-cutting trade candidate. However, Friedman said if the Oilers are going to move him it had better be for a good reason given his value this season to their blueline. “They really feel Barrie has become a big part of their framework internally and they can’t be all willy-nilly about moving him.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There are so many moving parts to trading Karlsson to the Oilers that I don’t think it’s something that can be done during the regular season. Oilers general manager Ken Holland last week said his cap-strapped team is looking at “dollar-in, dollar-out” moves and that’s very difficult to pull off in order to land Karlsson.

Even with the Sharks retaining 40 percent as some suggested, the Oilers face freeing up significant cap space to make it work. It could also mean trying to pull off a three-team deal to spread the dollars around.

Anything’s possible and it would be a helluva blockbuster if the Oilers could land Karlsson before March 3. I just don’t think the Oilers are in a position to get it done. They could be forced to look for a more affordable puck-moving defenseman like Arizona’s Shayne Gostisbehere.


THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek recently pondered the possibility of the Anaheim Ducks trading goaltender John Gibson to the Los Angeles Kings. He noted they’ve decided to stay the course for this season with Pheonix Copley and will probably part ways with pending free agent Jonathan Quick this summer.

Duhatschek pointed out that Gibson is signed for four more years with a “manageable” AAV of $6.4 million. He felt that Gibson also has the same drive and goaltending mannerisms as Quick so it wouldn’t be that difficult of an adjustment for long-time Kings such as Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The recent talk of the Kings perhaps looking at moving a goalie as part of a larger deal for Chychrun suggests they want to upgrade between the pipes for the long term. They’ve seen enough of Gibson over the years to determine if he’d be a good fit or not.

I’d be surprised if the Kings pursued a deal for the Ducks netminder. If they were to show an interest in Gibson I daresay they’d want the Ducks to retain part of his cap hit. However, the Ducks would probably prefer not to carry dead cap space for four years.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman recently said the Los Angeles Kings were interested in Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov if they could land Jakob Chychrun. He also added the Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers’ interest in Erik Karlsson indicates they’re looking more for an offensive-minded defenseman. That could take them out of the bidding for Gavrikov.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 28, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 28, 2022

The Kraken keep rising in the standings, the Canucks are clawing their way back into playoff contention, plus the latest on Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: An overtime goal by Daniel Sprong lifted the Seattle Kraken to a 5-4 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Matty Beniers had a goal and two assists for the Kraken (13-5-3) as they pick up their fifth straight win. Mason McTavish and Adam Henrique scored in the third period for Anaheim to force overtime as their record falls to 6-15-1). Ducks forward Trevor Zegras collected three assists.

Seattle Kraken center Matty Beniers (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the win, the Kraken moves one point ahead of the Dallas Stars for second place in the Western Conference standings with 29 points. Beniers leads all NHL rookies this season with 18 points. Meanwhile, Ducks goaltender John Gibson left the game in the third period with an undisclosed injury.

Vancouver Canucks forward Andrei Kuzmenko scored in overtime to nip the San Jose Sharks 4-3. Kuzmenko, Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller each collected two points as the Canucks (9-10-3) have won five of their last six games. Luke Kunin scored twice and Erik Karlsson picked up two assists for the 7-13-4 Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks have overcome a poor start to this season. With 21 points, they’re one point out of a wildcard berth in the Western Conference. Kuzmenko’s been a key part of that improvement. After netting just two points in his first seven NHL games, he now has 19 points in his last 14 contests, including two game-winning goals.

The Winnipeg Jets thumped the Chicago Blackhawks 7-2. Pierre-Luc Dubois and Saku Maenalanen each scored twice while Kyle Connor and Josh Morrissey each had three-point performances as the Jets improved to 13-6-1. Taylor Raddysh and Jujhar Khaira replied for the Blackhawks (6-11-4) as their winless skid reached seven games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Since their 4-2-0 start, the Blackhawks have won only twice in their last 15 games. Jets forward Morgan Barron collected an assist as he returned to action for the first time since being sidelined by an injury on Oct. 30. With 27 points, the Jets are fourth in the Western Conference.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov had a goal and two assists as his club held off the Arizona Coyotes by a score of 4-3. Joel Eriksson Ek collected two assists for the Wild (10-9-2) while Matias Macelli also picked up two assists as the Coyotes slid to 7-10-3.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Macelli sits second among this season’s rookie scorers with 13 points but he’s their leader in assists with 12.

The Ottawa Senators downed the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on an overtime by Claude Giroux. Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stutzle and Thomas Chabot each had two points as the Senators boosted their record to 8-12-1. Arthur Kaliyev scored both goals for the Kings (12-9-3) as they’ve dropped four of their last five contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a big win for the struggling Senators as they salvage four points from this four-game western road trip.


FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov will be sidelined for the next two games with a non-COVID-related illness.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers placed forwards Kailer Yamamoto and Ryan McLeod on injured reserve.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres placed forward Riley Sheahan on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract after he declined to report to their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

DAILY FACEOFF: Former Canucks coaching staff member Rachel Doerrie filed a complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal last week. She alleges she was discriminated against by the team and assistant general manager Emilie Castonguay for her mental and physical disabilities.

Doerrie, who has PTSD and a heart condition, was hired by the Canucks in January as an analyst and promoted to the coaching staff on Aug. 1. She indicated she had revealed her medical conditions to Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford during the hiring process. She was terminated from her position in September.

The Canucks issued two statements saying they “strongly disagreed” with Doerrie’s allegations.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 9, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 9, 2022

Recaps of Saturday’s preseason games, the Flames extend coach Darryl Sutter’s contract, Kyle Okposo is the Sabres’ new captain, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Nashville Predators defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-2 to sweep their two-game NHL Global Series in Prague, Czechia. Second-period goals by Filip Forsberg and Nino Niederreiter lifted the Predators past the Sharks while Kevin Lankinen made 31 saves for the win.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

Auston Matthews and William Nylander each scored twice while Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly each picked up three assists as the Toronto Maple Leafs rolled to a 5-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.

A hat trick by Vladislav Namestnikov carried the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers. Corey Perry collected three assists while Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside 27 shots for the Lightning.

The Los Angeles Kings beat the Anaheim Ducks 6-3. Arthur Kaliyev led the way with a goal and two assists. Ducks netminder John Gibson left the game after the first period with an upper-body injury after taking a shot off his mask. An update on his condition is expected on Sunday.

Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello each had three-point performances to lead the Minnesota Wild over the Dallas Stars 5-1. Marc-Andre Fleury picked up the win by stopping 22 shots.

St. Louis Blues goalie Jordan Binnington made 24 saves to shut out the Chicago Blackhawks 6-0. Ivan Barbashev tallied twice for the Blues.

The Ottawa Senators swept their two-game Kraft Hockeyville series with the Montreal Canadiens with a 3-2 win thanks to an overtime goal by Drake Batherson. The Canadiens were winless in preseason play with an 0-6-2 record.

An overtime goal by Dylan Strome lifted the Washington Capitals over the Columbus Blue Jackets by a score of 4-3. Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper got the win with a 36-save effort while teammate John Carlson collected three assists.

The New Jersey Devils got two-point performances from Jack Hughes and Alexander Holtz to top the Boston Bruins 5-3. David Krejci picked up two assists for the Bruins.

A 28-save performance by Ilya Sorokin helped the New York Islanders defeat the New York Rangers 3-1. Josh Bailey had two assists for the Isles. Rangers winger Sammy Blais left the game in the first period and didn’t return but head coach Gerard Gallant said Blais “should be fine.”

The Vegas Golden Knights downed the Arizona Coyotes 5-1. Reilly Smith and Paul Cotter both had two assists on the night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those were the final games of the 2022 preseason. The regular season opens on Tuesday, Oct. 11 with the Tampa Bay Lightning facing off against the New York Rangers while the Vegas Golden Knights visit the Los Angeles Kings.


CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: The Flames yesterday announced that head coach Darryl Sutter had agreed to a two-year contract extension that begins next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise there. The Flames made significant improvement after Sutter took over as head coach during the 2020-21 season. Management sees this team as a Stanley Cup contender and wants an experienced, steady hand behind the bench.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres named Kyle Okposo as their new team captain with Zemgus Girgensons and Rasmus Dahlin as their alternate captains. Okposo is the 20th captain in Sabres history and the first since Jack Eichel was stripped of the captaincy prior to trading him last November to the Vegas Golden Knights.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

DAILY FACEOFF: Calgary Flames defenseman Juuso Valimaki, Detroit Red Wings center Austin Czarnik and Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner Mark Friedman are among those placed on waivers on Saturday. Teams have until noon ET on Sunday to claim them.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: The Canadiens claimed defenseman Jonathan Kovacevic off waivers Saturday from the Winnipeg Jets.

TSN: Andrea Skinner has stepped down as interim chair of Hockey Canada’s board of directors. The organization has been losing sponsors and support from provincial organizations over its mishandling of sexual assault allegations leveled against several players on Canada’s 2003 and 2018 World Junior teams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Skinner’s departure is a start but there needs to be a complete overhaul of Hockey Canada’s leadership.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 18, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 18, 2022

Check out the latest on Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun and Ducks goaltender John Gibson plus an update on Joe Thornton in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.


GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan reports Jakob Chychrun has been the subject of rampant trade speculation for some time. However, Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong said last week that he expects the 24-year-old defenseman to report to training camp when it opens on Sept. 21.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (NHL Images).

Armstrong said they’ve had “continued, healthy conversations” throughout the summer as Chychrun continued to rehab an injury. He also praised the blueliner’s professionalism.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rumors persist tying Chychrun to the Ottawa Senators but if that move was going to happen it probably would’ve by now. Armstrong has reportedly set a high asking price and has stuck to it.

We’ll likely hear Chychrun’s name come up again in rumors throughout this season depending on his performance this season. However, the earliest I see him being traded (if it happens at all) is in the days leading up to the March 3 trade deadline.

The Coyotes GM also indicated contract negotiations are ongoing with restricted free agent Barrett Hayton. “We’re in a staring contest,” said Armstrong, who sympathize with the young center.

Armstrong also indicated a decision on Andrew Ladd’s future could be coming this week. He’s entering the final year of his contract but said at the end of last season that his plans remained uncertain due to the wear on his oft-injured body.


THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens last week reported the Anaheim Ducks won’t be trading John Gibson. “The Ducks didn’t do it over the summer. Gibson said he didn’t want to leave.”

Stephens observed that both sides appear committed to keeping the long-term relationship going “for now.” He also pointed out that the 29-year-old goaltender has another five years and $32 million remaining on his contract plus a 10-team no-trade list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stephens acknowledged it’s possible the relationship between Gibson and the Ducks changes. However, he considers it more probable that he doesn’t move. For now, they can comfortably afford his contract but it could become an anchor when they have to re-sign their promising young players.


SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng reports Joe Thornton recently joined the San Jose Sharks for a “captain’s skate” with Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Kaapo Kahkonen and James Reimer. However, Peng considers it unlikely that the 43-year-old forward will be returning to the Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thornton is one of the greatest playmakers in NHL history and a certain first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. As I’ve stated previously, however, his play has noticeably declined over the past few seasons as age and the wear-and-tear of 24 years of NHL hockey have caught up with him. An NHL club could invite him to training camp for a tryout but I think his playing days at the NHL level are probably over.